Dress Up Chicken With Tomato Relish For A Tangy Taste In Every Bite

According to the USDA, chicken became the most widely consumed protein in America by 2010, surpassing beef, pork, and fish. In addition to being affordable and plentiful, chicken is also versatile enough to fit into any cuisine and cooking style. Whether it's barbecued, pan-roasted, or deep-fried, chicken could always use a complementary garnish or sauce to amp it up.

Instead of dousing chicken in barbecue sauce or dipping it in honey mustard, you'll find a much more interesting and refined garnish in tomato relish. While you might associate the word "relish" with the classic crunchy, sweet, or tangy chopped pickle condiment commonly spread atop hot dogs or burgers, relish is actually a blanket term for fruits, vegetables, or spices preserved through the use of sugar and vinegar.

As a pickled condiment, tomato relish has a tangy zing from vinegar or citric acid and a delightfully chunky, juicy consistency that can brighten chicken's savory chewiness. Tomatoes are glutamate-rich, and cooking them during the pickling process releases their sweetness, adding caramelized umami notes to a zesty relish. Furthermore, you can add depth to tomato relish with your choice of spices and aromatics, making it easier to pair with your preferred cooking style or cuisine.

Tomato relish is easy to make and requires no aging, so you can prepare it while your chicken cooks. As soon as you've pickled tomatoes, you've effectively preserved them, extending their shelf life for future chicken dinners.

Tomato relish ingredient suggestions and flavor pairing ideas

While tomato relish may sound like a novel garnish in North America, it's already a popular condiment in many European, Mediterranean, and South Asian cuisines. There are many recipes out there for tomato relish, ranging from a simple mixture of tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar to a complex and elaborate combination of seeds, spices, and chopped chilies.

Any tomato relish recipe would work with chicken, and you can even tailor the flavors according to the particular chicken dish you're making. For example, you could add garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, and mustard to tomato relish to create a chutney that would pair well with an Indian-style dish like tandoori chicken.

A garlic, onion, and paprika tomato relish would add smokey, sweet, and tangy notes to a roast chicken. Thai recipes create an umami-rich, spicy tomato relish by adding fish sauce, dried chilies, and peppers, elevating any simple chicken dish to flavorful heights. You could even create a Mexican-inspired tomato relish using green tomatillos, lime, cilantro, jalapeños, and white onions to spoon over chicken fajitas or a Mexican-style rotisserie chicken.